All in the 'family'

posted on Thu, Oct 10 2013 12:50 pm by Michael Lavers, Washington Blade

Family Equality Council Executive Director Gabriel Blau’s faith background has always proven an integral part of his LGBT advocacy.

He founded the God and Sexuality National Academic Conference at Bard College in 1998 that brought together scholars and advocates to present lectures and workshops on gender, sexuality and religion because he “wasn’t finding the kind of leaders and resources” he said he needed as an LGBT person of faith. Blau later led the $18 million campaign to raise funds that would allow Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, an LGBT synagogue in New York City, to move into a new location in Manhattan.

Blau told the Washington Blade during an interview at his D.C. office that his faith background has proven an asset in his new position.

“As a family organization, we’re one of the few that is not either just a right-wing group or a faith-based group,” he said. “The concept of family values has been so really tarnished by other family values groups, and often in the name of faith and often in the name of what’s right and what God wants. I think understanding that is critical to being able to fight it and to fight for real family values for valuing families.”

Blau joined Family Equality Council in January as its deputy director of strategic advancement. The organization’s board of directors in August appointed him to succeed long-time Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler, who resigned earlier this year to accept a senior administrative position at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Alan Bernstein, board chair of the Council, said in a press release that Blau represents a new generation of LGBT leaders in the country.

“One whose personal experiences and passion for social change can inspire our families and policy makers,” Bernstein said. “He is uniquely qualified to lead Family Equality Council at this pivotal moment in our organization’s history and in the LGBT movement. We look forward to having him lead the organization’s efforts from our nation’s capital where we can continue the progress we’ve made in being recognized as the leading national voice on issues related to LGBT family equality.”

Blau commutes between D.C. and New York where he lives with his husband Dylan and their 5-year-old son, Elijah. He also spends one week a month working out of the Family Equality Council’s Boston office.

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